JUST LOOK AT US NOW, WILL YOU?

JUST LOOK AT US NOW, WILL YOU? Andy Hollifield 7-5-17
Isaiah 2:17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
Luke 1:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
“Exalted” means to raise in rank, honor, power, character, quality, etc.; elevate. With that in mind, I want to look back 241 years. I know that July 4th is past but as I sat watching fireworks disintegrate in the clouded night sky over Lake Junaluska, NC, I thought about the beauty and the sounds. The sound of exploding bombs brought joy to all of those that witnessed them. I thought about how different it must have been for the men that won our independence starting in 1775. It is one thing to declare independence but another thing altogether to secure it. Don’t stop reading now because this really isn’t a post about July 4th as much as it is about coming out from under oppression and being exalted by God.
As I watched the fireworks display and noting the beauty of it, I shudder to think of the horror that those soldiers went through at the sight of similar bombs exploding and bringing only death and destruction. There certainly was no beauty out on the battlefield for those men. Soldiers have faced those same situations in every war our country has ever been engaged in. Men and women throughout our history have continued to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor just to defend that flag we are so proud of and the nation it represents.
Let your mind go back to April of 1775 and even on back to 1754 and the events leading up to the French and Indian War. Part of the reason for our independence is those years. From 1754 on as the war continued, England was quickly spending itself into bankruptcy. Their answer to the problem, much like today, was not to do anything different but to tax the colonies and get what they needed. Eventually, the taxes got so high that the colonists were unable and unwilling to pay them. The British had even taxed Molasses back in 1733. Those taxes took away all freedom for the colonists to govern themselves. These taxes became the oppression that was the catalyst of the war for Independence. They kept the colonists stifled as far as growth and pretty much broke because part of the legislation called for all goods shipped from the colonies to go to England for distribution via “The Navigation Acts.” Also during this time The Quartering Act of 1765 which required colonists to house, feed, and supply the needs of British soldiers was still the law. The Navigation Act proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back as the old saying goes. Over twenty years of British oppression and taxes culminated in the beginning of the war for independence.
Now, on to our main topic. The plight of the colonists in those years is a parallel picture of our lives before we invited Christ into our hearts. We were going along pretty good just minding our own business and enjoying life. Then, there came a day that we realized there had to be more to life than what we had. At that point, we began to try to fill that void with whatever anyone said would bring us happiness or give us a temporary escape from what had now become a burdensome life. For some, it may have been alcohol and for others maybe drugs or illicit sex or searching for something in various religions; none of which could fill that void in our lives. We may not have realized it at the time, but that was simply Satan trying to keep us oppressed with sin so that we would not figure out that God himself was what we needed to fill that void. From the creation of man, we have had an inborn desire to worship. Some might disagree with that but if you look back in Genesis 4, you will find that both Cain and Abel brought an offering unto the Lord. Why? Because of that inborn desire to worship. After all, Isaiah 43:7 says “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Revelation 4:11 says in part: “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” If there was no inborn desire to worship, why did Cain and Abel bring an offering unto the Lord? The simple answer is that we were created in his image and for his glory. Even ancient civilizations had a desire to worship something. Even Greek Mythology with all of its gods prove that there is an innate desire to worship someone higher and more powerful than ourselves. A lot of times, these cultures have gotten it wrong and worshipped the creation instead of the creator but the desire was still present. Satan knows that desire is toward God even though it sometimes takes us years to figure it out and come to the Lord. If he can keep us oppressed with sin so that we never come to the Lord, then his purpose has been served. Satan himself said in Job 1 that he was walking up and down in the earth. God knew that he was seeking to afflict someone and so goes the story of Job. The devil destroyed all that he could but even in all of that trouble, Job still had the desire to worship God. Satan operates out of jealousy and deceit and that was manifested on the earth when Cain became jealous of Abel’s offering and killed him. He apparently was deceived and thought that he could hide his actions from God. We spend a lot of time in our lives believing that we can get by with sin. We also are deceived in our thinking and thus we submit ourselves to the oppression of sin to which there is no remedy apart from the grace of God by the blood of Jesus Christ.
As I thought about those early colonists that risked everything in total dependence on God to gain their independence, I thought of how we too, are under great oppression from sin. The difference is that we can do nothing to free ourselves. We can’t fight our way out and can’t outlast it and escape its grip. The only thing we can do is to run to the one that created us in his image and submit ourselves to him. Only the blood of Jesus and the sacrifice of his life on the cross is the only way to obtain forgiveness of our sins and escape from its bondage. Jesus has already fought our battle for us so that we could be free. We no longer have to be in bondage to sin and the devil because Christ paid for our liberty through his death, burial, and resurrection.
Just as those early colonists fought their war to gain their independence totally depending on God for deliverance, so must we fight ours. Christ won our independence from the bondage of sin but we must fight the forces of evil with a total dependence on God and his grace and mercy. The price of freedom isn’t cheap. It cost a lot of the colonists their fortunes and some even their lives. For our freedom from sin; it cost heaven it’s very best and cost Jesus his life. We have come a long way as a nation from where we started in 1776. We as individuals should have come a long way from where we were when Christ saved us. Just look at us now, will you? Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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